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T&T Under-15 team will face a tough test when they come up against St Kitts/Nevis in their opening match of the the Concacaf Under-15 Championships at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands.

The team, which was due to depart yesterday, will now leave this morning on a 6 am flight. A release from the Football Association said the reason for the delay was the unavailability of flights out of Port-of-Spain. In addition, financial support for the team’s airfare was only received from the Ministry of Sport on Monday.

The team, coached by Shawn Cooper, includes a few players attached to local Digicel T&T Pro League clubs including midfielder Renaldo Francois of Defence Force, Kareem Riley and Kierron Mason of W Connection, Travell Edwards of St Ann’s Rangers while there are other players such as defender Sharkell Louison of Moruga FC and Jesse Joseph of Joe Public FC.

The competition was launched yesterday in Grand Cayman among the national teams of 23 member associations, making it the largest Concacaf competition of its kind to be played in a single country. Speaking at the launch, Concacaf president, Jeffrey Webb said it was important for coaches and players to have competitions for development.

“This tournament was conceived to intensify our grassroots efforts while helping to identify and develop talent that will eventually create our future stars.”

The inaugural tournament is an initiative of Webb, recognising the need for a concentrated effort that would support and grow football at the youth level. The Under-15 Championship, which will be held every two years, is expected to strengthen the love of the game among young players and foster a commitment to the sport that will grow along with them.

In addition to the sporting advantages of introducing players between the ages of 13-15 to a higher-level of football on a regional stage, the Under-15 tournament is bringing nearly 700 participants to the island during the low-season for tourism. For the Cayman Islands.

Countries competing include Antigua & Barbuda, Aruba, the Bahamas, Belize, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Curacao, El Salvador, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Martinique, Puerto Rico, St Kitts & Nevis, St Lucia, Saint Martin, St Maarten, St Vincent & the Grenadines, Trinidad & Tobago and the US Virgin Islands.

For first-round play, the squads have been drawn into four groups – three of six teams and one comprised of five teams. Each team will play the others in its group once. The group winners will advance to the semifinals on August 23 at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex. The match for third place and the final will take place two days later at the same venue.

T&T Squad

Goalkeepers: Enrique Changiah (Marabella Crisis Center), Levi Fernandez (San Fernando Sports Academy).

Defenders: Shirwin Noel (W Connection), Romario Villafana (San Juan Jabloteh), Kendell Charles (San Juan Jabloteh), Matthew Joseph (W Connection), Sharkell Louison (Moruga FC), Travell Edwards (St Ann’s Rangers), Anthony Herbert (W Connection).

Midfielders: Jesse Joseph (Joe Public FC), Kareem Riley (W Connection), Kierron Mason (W Connection), Renaldo Francois (Defence Force), Shakhun Hanley (Defence Force), Shakeem Patrick (Football Factory).

Forwards: Raheam Borde (St Ann’s Rangers), Akil Frank (1976 Phoenix FC), Isaiah Hudson (W Connection).

Technical Staff: Richard Quan Chan (head of delegation), Shawn Cooper (coach), William Wallace (manager), Ross Russell (assistant coach/goalkeeping coach), Leonson Lewis (assistant coach), Terrence Marcelle (assistant coach), Michael Taylor (physiotherapist), Devin Elcock (equipment manager).